Growing up, gazpacho was a must-have chilled soup during the warm summer months of Spain. I still return to gazpacho as soon the temperatures rise. I keep it cold (both soup and vessels) in the fridge, ready to serve.The Pacific Northwest is blooming, and I couldn’t pass on sharing this beauty with you, along with a frothy and refreshing gazpacho. Spring’s warmest days demand it, and summer is just around the corner.
Of course, when we think of gazpacho, tomato, olive oil, pepper, etc. is what comes to mind. However, there is a different version. A white, frothy and refreshing gazpacho, traditionally from Málaga, on Spain’s southwestern coast – for the locals is simply called Ajo Blanco. As any traditional gazpacho, Ajo Blanco is served cold, perfect for summer days and spring too.
The author who brings us this chilled almond gazpacho, Mimi Thorisson, for may of you, may not need an introduction. Mrs. Thorisson cooks, bakes, writes and teaches, while her husband – one of the best photographers I’ve discovered recently – photographs everything that happens in their farmhouse kitchen (and outside too).
A wonderful partnership, isn’t it?
This recipe is from her recently published cookbook “A Kitchen in France – A Year of Cooking from my Farmhouse” (one of many recipes I have bookmarked).
Mrs Thorisson resides in a wine-growing region, where not only the quality of the vines and grapes are world-renowned, but also the abundance of the ingredients she chooses, the local purveyors she procures them from; “living in little paradise” – she states. The way she cooks ensures that the result couldn’t be any different than the art of savoir-faire every time.
More influential than the food and pictures, in my view, is the happy family they have built together, how well-versed their young ones are about food, the natural beauty and peacefulness of their surroundings, and the generous neighbors they share their food with year-round. Mrs Thorisson’s family values, such as eating together, bringing the children to help in the kitchen, educating their palates, are the same values I’m sure many of us can closely relate to.
I leave you with a traditional Ajo Blanco, and some freshly picked magnolias that a tree in a sidewalk nearby home shared with me, hoping that you will enjoy it, chilled and frothy surrounded by your loved ones this summer.
As I write this post, I’m unmolding some camomile and honey panna cottas – sweet and milky custards – that I plan to finish with bee pollen – as the author suggests.
I expect to be back soon to tell you all about it.
- 2 cups crust less white bread
- 200 gr slivered blanched almonds
- 250 g seedless green grapes
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 cups ice-cold water
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon piment d' Espelette
- Soak the bread in a bowl of cool water for 1 minute, then drain, squeezing out as much water as possible.
- Transfer the bread to a food processor and add the almonds, grapes, cucumber, and minced garlic. Start processing and gradually add the ice water, ⅔ cup of olive oil, the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Puree until you have a smooth and velvety mixture.
- Pass the soup through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Just before serving, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat and cook the sliced garlic until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved almonds and toast for a minute or two. Ladle the chilled gazpacho into individual bowls. Sprinkle with the fried garlic and almonds, and piment d'Espelette, add a drizzle of olive oil, and serve immediately.
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